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2004 March

March 31st, 2004

March 31, 2004

Dear friends of CalUWild —

There are several items of interest this month. In particular, two new wilderness bills have been introduced in Congress for the West, and Sen. Feinstein is supporting one of the California wilderness bills!

The Bush administration continues its attack on public lands, leasing areas which have been inventoried and proposed for wilderness designation. In addition, they advised national park superintendents to keep secret the fact that budget cutbacks might cause operating hours at some sites to be reduced. This story was widely reported and the San Francisco Chronicle printed a letter to the editor from me, which you can read on-line (second letter) at:

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/03/21/EDGQQ5N68N1.DTL

Secrecy seems to be the hallmark of this administration. The Sierra Club’s lawsuit against vice president Dick Cheney, over his refusal to divulge the names of the people he consulted with in preparing the Energy Plan, will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court soon. Justice Scalia has refused to recuse himself from the case, despite doubts expressed by some over his duck hunting trip with the vice president in December. (However, the Energy Bill, with its bad public lands language seems to be going nowhere right now.)

In other Supreme Court news, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance was before the Court on Monday, arguing that BLM has a duty to protect Wilderness Study Areas from damage, in this case caused by off-road vehicles. Eight former heads of the White House Council on Environmental Quality submitted a brief supporting SUWA’s position. We’ll let you know when the ruling comes down.

In another Utah court case, Federal District Court Judge Teena Campbell reaffirmed her ruling setting out strict standards for what constitutes a highway under R.S. 2477: the road must actually be constructed; it must actually go somewhere, In addition, she ruled that the counties in the suit did not have valid RS 2477 claims or that they had exceeded the scope of the right-of-way by making the road wider. Finally, she ruled that illegal bulldozing in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was an act of trespass. The case is on appeal to the 10th Circuit in Denver.

Earth Day is coming up toward the end of April. I will be on the road and unable to set up an information table. However, if you would be interested in distributing CalUWild brochures at events in your area, please let meknow. Send an e-mail to Info at Caluwild, and let’s discuss!

Finally, this September marks the 40th Anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act. CalUWild, along with some of the other Bay Area wilderness organizations, is looking for an appropriate way to celebrate. One thought is to have a 3-week series of speakers and slides on several wilderness topics. If you have suggestions for speakers, venues, or avenues for publicity please contact me at Info at Caluwild. Venues need to be easily accessible by public transportation, must accommodate a couple hundred people, and be inexpensive to rent (if not free). Thanks in advance for your ideas!

Best Wishes,
Mike

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IN UTAH & COLORADO

1. BLM Leases Areas Adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2. Sen. Dianne Feinstein Endorses The North Coast Wild Heritage Act (ACTION ITEM)
3. Snowmobiles Threaten Proposed Wilderness In Sierra Nevada (ACTION ITEM)

IN OREGON
4. Mt. Hood Wilderness Legislation to be Introduced

IN NEW MEXICO
5. Ojito Wilderness Legislation Introduced

IN GENERAL
6. Fee Demo Bill Passes First Test
7. Job Opportunities

A. National Parks Conservation Association
B. Friends of the Inyo

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IN Utah and Colorado

1. BLM Leases Areas Adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument (ACTION ITEM)

In February, the Bureau of Land Management held lease sales for 126,000 acres of land in Utah and Colorado. Some the leased areas had been found by the BLM to have wilderness character. Others are adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument in the northeast corner of Utah. If drilling were to occur, rigs would be visible from the Visitors Center and from some of the roads in and leading to the Monument.

Last week, in response to administrative protests by environmental organizations, the BLM put the leases into “pending” status until the protests are resolved.

In the meantime, you should write to the BLM Utah and Colorado offices protesting the lease sales. Please let the BLM know that wilderness-quality lands should not be opened to exploration, nor should areas immediately adjacent to national parks and monuments. It is especially helpful if you have been to Dinosaur NM and can write about your experience there and how oil and gas exploration would have impacted your visit.

Ms. Sally Wisely
State Director BLM Utah State Office
P.O. Box 45155
Salt Lake City, UT 84145

Mr. Ron Wenker
State Director BLM Colorado State Office
2850 Youngfield Street
Lakewood, CO 80215

FROM California

2. Sen. Dianne Feinstein Endorses The North Coast Wild Heritage Act (ACTION ITEM)

Good news came this month as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) agreed to support Sen. Barbara Boxer’s North Coast Wild Heritage Act, S.738. That bill is the Senate version of H.R.1501, the District 1 bill introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D), covering his district.

We have been waiting for this for quite a while now, so it is important that people write and thank her for supporting the bill and furthermore, urging her to support Sen. Boxer’s bill covering all of California, S.1555.

Write Sen. Feinstein at:

Hon. Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
1 Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104

or

11111 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 915
Los Angeles, CA 90025

3. Snowmobiles Threaten Proposed Wilderness In Sierra Nevada (ACTION ITEM)

The following alert comes from the Snowlands Network

Letters Needed

History

The fabulous and wild skiing terrain around Sonora Pass, Leavitt Bowl, the Emigrant Wilderness and the proposed Hoover Wilderness Additions is facing a huge threat by large numbers of snowmobilers from all over California and the west.

Toiyabe National Forest recommended the Leavitt Bowl-Tower Peak-Piute Meadows area, which lies just east of Sonora Pass and abuts the Emigrant Wilderness, for wilderness designation back in 1986. A large portion of the Forest Service-proposed Hoover Wilderness Additions is contained in Senator Boxer’s California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, S. 1555.

The Forest Service is supposed to manage the area to retain its wilderness values, which include not allowing snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles in the proposed wilderness. Unfortunately, the Forest Service has not been doing its job! As a result, illegal snowmobile use has been escalating over the past 18 years; the use has dramatically increased in the past five years. The illegal use has been occurring not only in the proposed Hoover Wilderness Additions, but also in the adjacent Emigrant Wilderness and Yosemite National Park.

The Forest Service, due to its inaction over many years, has unwittingly created a huge constituency-larger than any of us imagined- against the wilderness additions. The Blue Ribbon Coalition, a national off-roaders’ group, says, “Anyone who has ever snowmobiled in this area knows that this is the most spectacular snowmobiling in California …This area is incomparable and irreplaceable and will be a huge loss to the snowmobile community if the closure is enacted.”

Not only are the snowmobiles illegal, but witnesses have documented them spilling odorous, petrol-contaminated snow in the Leavitt Creek watershed, smashing exposed vegetation in springtime, and high-marking recklessly in avalanche-prone bowls.

Good and Bad News

Due to increasing complaints by citizens, concerns about safety expressed by the U.S. Marine Corps (which trains troops in the winter in the Leavitt Bowl portion of the proposed wilderness addition) and aerial patrols by the neighboring Inyo National Forest which have documented many violations in recent years, the Forest Service said they would begin enforcing snowmobile violations, but not until 2005.

The really bad news is that the Blue Ribbon Coalition is blitzing the Forest Service with letters and there are signs that it may back down and not enforce the regulations.

What You Can Do

The Blue Ribbon Coalition is fighting the Forest Service’s proposal to enforce the law. Your letters are urgently needed to show the Forest Service that there is support for enforcement of the regulations! Please send a letter today to the Forest Service and tell them to protect wilderness values, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing opportunities, and enforce the law.

Tell the Forest Service you strongly support its decision to enforce the existing snowmobile closure in the Leavitt Bowl/Sonora Pass area. Illegal users should be cited.

Ask the Forest Service to sign the area immediately and start enforcing the closure now, not beginning next year. Illegal snowmobile trespass in existing and proposed wilderness has got to stop!

Tell the Forest Service you support Wilderness designation for the proposed Hoover Wilderness Additions. Remind them they need to manage the area as Wilderness until Congress acts or the Forest Plan is revised accordingly.

Send your letters and e-mails to:

Kathy Lucich, District Ranger
Bridgeport Ranger District
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
HCR 1, Box 100
Bridgeport, CA 93517

Email: Klucich@fs.fed.us

Please CC your letter to:
Bob Vaught, Forest Supervisor
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
1200 Franklin Way
Sparks, NV 89431

E-mail: rvaught@fs.fed.us

IN OREGON

4. Mt. Hood Wilderness Bill to be Introduced

Last week, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D) announced he would be introducing the Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act of 2004. The bill would designate 160,000 acres as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, adding to wilderness areas around Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge, as well as designating parts of four rivers Wild and Scenic.

Oregon’s other senator, Gordon Smith (R) has not endorsed the plan, but will consider supporting it.

For more information, visit the Oregon Natural Resources Council at:

http://www.onrc.org/

IN NEW MEXICO

5. Ojito Wilderness Bills Introduced

New Mexico Sens. Pete Domenici (R) and Jeff Bingaman (D) introduced S.1649, the Ojito Wilderness Act, which would designate an area about 35 miles northwest of Albuquerque as wilderness. A companion bill, H.R.3176, was introduced in the House by Reps. Heather Wilson (R) and Tom Udall (D).

The lands in the bill contain many archaeological, cultural, and paleontological sites, in addition to a dramatic landscape.

The bills are supported by the Albuquerque City Council, local businesses, and the Zia Pueblo, which is adjacent to proposal. In fact, part of the land splits the reservation into two parts, and the tribe would be allowed to purchase the land to unite the halves, although land would remain accessible to the public.

For more information, visit the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

IN GENERAL

6. Fee Demo Bill Passes First Test

The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in February passed S.1107, a bill allowing only the National Park Service to collect fees under the Fee Demonstration Program. The committee resisted efforts to add amendments granting authority to the National Forest Service, the BLM, or other agencies to be able to charge fees for recreational use of public lands.

If the bill passes the full Senate and a similar bill passes the House, the authority to collect fees for hiking and similar activities will expire December 31, 2005 on lands not managed by the Park Service.

We’ll keep you posted as the bill progresses.

7. Job Opportunities

A. National Parks Conservation Association
DEADLINE: April 13, 2004

The Northwest Regional Office of the National Parks Conservation Association is accepting applications for 2 experienced grassroots organizers to work with our volunteers inside Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park this summer.

These short-term contract positions require:

* Full term completion of contract (May-August 2004).
* Working 5 days/week (including weekends) from Memorial Day – Labor Day.
* Occasional overnight camping.
* Your own reliable transportation.

Benefits:

* Spend your summer inside two of the Northwest’s gorgeous national parks.
* Monthly stipend provided.
* Educating thousands of visitors about the decline of our national parks.
* Working with our corps of enthusiastically dedicated volunteers and activists.

Applicants should have:

* At least 2 years of grassroots and political organizing, or public education experience.
* Familiarity with national parks and park issues.
* Substantial experience recruiting, training and leading diverse groups of volunteers.
* Highly organized, enthusiastic, and dependable work ethic.
* Extensive public speaking and communication skills.

Send resume, cover letter and references by April 13, 2004 to:
northwest@npca.org
fax: (206) 903-1448
Learn more about NPCA.

B. Friends of the Inyo

Friends of the Inyo Conservation Associate – Job Description
Application Deadline – April 19, 2004

For the full job description, please send an e-mail to info@caluwild.org.

The Conservation Associate will work with the Executive Director and Board of Directors to carry out our mission of preserving the ecological, recreational and cultural values of public lands in the Eastern Sierra (Inyo-Mono counties).

Friends of the Inyo’s work consists of three program areas:

Outreach and Education – Preservation of wildlands and wildlife cannot be achieved solely through rear-guard, defensive actions. By reaching out and helping involve citizens, both locally and abroad, in defending and determining the future of their public land resources, FOI works to empower, educate, and weave conservation into the very fabric of Eastern Sierra communities.

Wildland Defense – FOI’s wildland defense efforts are crafted to inform, educate and engage the public. Our goals are to create public lands advocates and to influence public opinion with regard to public lands conservation issues while achieving specific outcomes, such as closing a damaging road in a riparian desert canyon or ensuring agency planning processes respect the needs of wildlife and ecosystem function.

Wilderness Advocacy – Home to over 1.5 million acres of potential Wilderness, the public wildlands of the Eastern Sierra contain nearly a quarter of the state’s potential Wilderness acreage. Through education, advocacy and grassroots organizing, we work to ensure more of the magnificent Eastern Sierra is preserved for future generations of people, plants and animals as Wilderness.

Our work is supported and maintained by a vibrant and growing dues-paying membership, private donations, and foundation grants.

Given the small size and grassroots nature of Friends of the Inyo, the Conservation Associate will be required to work on all aspects of our organization – from conducting public field trips to working with federal land managers to maintaining our membership database and member communications.

Please call (760) 647-0079 or visit www.friendsoftheinyo.org for more information about FOI and our work to preserve the public lands and wildlife of the Eastern Sierra.

*************

God bless America. Let’s save some of it.
–Edward Abbey

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2003 March

March 27th, 2003

March 27, 2003

Dear CalUWild friends —

The last week has been filled with stories about the war against Iraq, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Although our thoughts are turned to that issue and justifiably concerned with all the people involved in that conflict, we cannot neglect the important wilderness and public lands issues facing us here at home. We can be sure that the administration is not neglecting them!

In fact, one Congressional staffer said to me last week that “it is amazing, the thoroughness of what the administration is trying to do” in its rollback of environmental policy.

The only way to protect the areas we treasure is to be involved: writing letters, making phone calls, going to meetings. It takes some effort, but it works!

For example, last week — despite long odds — the U.S. Senate approved an amendment by California Senator Barbara Boxer to exclude revenues from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from the 2004 budget. This effectively killed the administration’s proposal to open the Refuge up for development, at least for now. Sen. Boxer deserves a lot of thanks for this effort; call her at: 202-224-3553. Oregon Republican Sen. Gordon Smith resisted a lot of pressure to vote against the amendment. So if you have a connection to Oregon, you should call his office and thank him, too: 202-224-3753.

In last month’s UPDATE, we reported on a proposal by Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to blow up rock formations exposed by low lake levels in the reservoir to reduce the distance that boats must travel now that snaking canyon walls are exposed. We’re happy to report that the superintendent has written saying: “it was not identified as a priority project. We also felt it wasn’t an economically sound project based on the projected lake levels.” So thanks to anyone who wrote a letter protesting this craziness.

The Yellowstone Protection Act was introduced in the House of Representatives. This legislation (HR 1130) would implement the Clinton administration’s rules phasing out snowmobile use in Yellowstone over the next several years. The current administration had reversed that policy, in spite of EPA saying that the phaseout was the “the best available protection” for Yellowstone and human health.

The California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) has issued it annual report on California’s “10 Most Threatened Wild Places.” This year’s list:

* Algodones Sand Dunes
* Panamint Range (Briggs Mine and Surprise Canyon)
* Cleveland National Forest
* Tejon Ranch
* Los Padres National Forest
* Duncan Canyon
* Westside Sierra Corporate Forestlands
* Plumas and Lassen National Forests
* Medicine Lake Highlands
* Klamath River Basin.

The report is available online at:

http://www.calwild.org/resources/pubs/10most.php

RS 2477 continues to be an issue (see Items 4 & 5). Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton strongly objecting to the new rules that the BLM finalized earlier this year. A coalition of wilderness organizations, CalUWild among them, has put together a web site which discusses the new rule and its implications for the West. Visit it for more information:

http://www.highway-robbery.org/

Now a couple of administrative items:

A friend of CalUWild’s in Utah who runs a tour and guiding business recently broached the idea of leading a trip or two for CalUWild members who would be interested in seeing some of Utah’s spectacular wild places up close. Trips could range from backpacking to car camping to staying in B&Bs and eating in restaurants run by Utahns who support wilderness. If you’d be interested, please send an email to info@caluwild.org stating your preference.

Finally, the 2003 edition of “The CalUWild Guide to Effective Advocacy” will be coming out in the next day or so. This publication discusses writing persuasive letters to decision makers and setting up meetings with legislators and newspaper editorial boards. It also contains an updated list of contact information for the complete California congressional delegation, as well as addresses for letters to the editors of the major California newspapers.

New this year is the inclusion of addresses and phone numbers for all local offices in California. Because all mail to Congress in Washington, DC is irradiated, letters often crumble when opened. Therefore, we do not recommend mailing letters to offices in DC. You should either fax them there or mail them to their offices in California (or whatever state you live in).

Please hold onto this Guide and keep it where you can refer to it easily. It will also be posted on CalUWild’s web site at:

https://www.caluwild.org/advocacy.htm

Many thanks to CalUWild volunteer Lise Adams who tracked down all the information from the House and Senate web sites. It was quite a task!

Please pass this UPDATE along to 2 or 3 people you know who are interested in wilderness issues. We need to continue involving more folks in our efforts to let our representatives and the agencies know that we care deeply about our wilderness and public lands in the West. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to info@caluwild.org.

Thanks for doing your part!
Mike

IN UTAH
1. America’s Redrock Wilderness Act Cosponsors
(ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2. SWAT Teams in Wilderness ???

3. CalUWild Slide Show In Marin County April 8

4. RS 2477 Desert Fieldwork

5. RS 2477 Field Organizer Position at CWC

IN ALASKA
6. Arctic Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Bill Introduced
(ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
7. Fee Demonstration Program in Congress
(ACTION ITEM)

####################

IN UTAH
1. America’s Redrock Wilderness Act Cosponsors

The number of cosponsors for the Utah Wilderness bill continues to grow rapidly. As of this morning, there were 123 in the House and 13 in the Senate. California’s delegation is renewing its support, but not as fast as we’d like. Phone calls and letters saying “Thank you!” or asking for cosponsorship are needed, as appropriate.

COPSONSORS:

* Sen. Barbara Boxer (D): 202-224-3553
* Xavier Becerra (D-31): 202-225-6235
* Howard Berman (D-28): 202-225-4695
* Lois Capps (D-23): 202-225-3601
* Susan Davis (D-53): 202-225-2040
* Anna Eshoo (D-14): 202-225-8104
* Sam Farr (D-17): 202-225-2861
* Bob Filner (D-51): 202-225-8045
* Jane Harman (D-36): 202-225-8220
* Mike Honda (D-15): 202-225-2631
* Tom Lantos (D-12): 202-225-3531
* Barbara Lee (D-9): 202-225-2661
* Robert Matsui (D-05): 202-225-7163
* Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-37): 202-225-7924
* George Miller (D-7): 202-225-2095
* Grace Napolitano (D-38): 202-225-5256
* Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34): 202-225-1766
* Linda Sanchez (D-39): 202-225-6676
* Pete Stark (D-13): 202-225-5065
* Ellen Tauscher (D-10): 202-225-1880
* Henry Waxman (D-30): 202-225-3976
* Lynn Woolsey (D-6): 202-225-5161

TARGETS:

* Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D): 202-224-3841
* Joe Baca (D-43): 202-225-6161
* Cal Dooley (D-20): 202-225-3341
* Zoe Lofgren (D-16): 202-225-3072
* Loretta Sanchez (D-47): 202-225-2965
* Adam Schiff (D-29): 202-225-4176
* Brad Sherman (D-27): 202-225-5911
* Hilda Solis (D-32): 202-225-5464
* Mike Thompson (D-01): 202-225-3311
* Maxine Waters (D-35): 202-225-2201
* Diane Watson (D-33): 202-225-7084

IN CALIFORNIA
2. SWAT Teams in Wilderness ???

The following alert came from Wilderness Watch.

The Sacatar Trail Wilderness is along US Highway 395, west of China Lake and southeast of the Golden Trout Wilderness.

Imagine yourself relaxing after a beautiful day spent hiking in the Sacatar Trail Wilderness in California. You sit happily by your cook stove, enjoying the growing silence as the moon rises over a nearby ridge. You are stirring your noodles when you hear a sound and look up, deeply startled to see that your camp is surrounded by a dozen men, faces painted a deep green, shotguns ready.

The Sacatar Trail Wilderness needs your help!

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering issuing a Special Recreation Use Permit to the Tactical Firearms Training Team (TFTT), a commercial enterprise offering courses in firearms and tactical skills, to use portions of California’s Sacatar Trail Wilderness for training exercises. The four-day, around-the clock training course, entitled “Combat Fieldcraft”, teaches extreme survival skills and tactics, including night operations, land navigation, patrolling, rope work, small unit operations, observation exercises and camouflage. Participants bring their own shotguns and 40 rounds of ammunition for use during the course. The BLM reports that the course would have “about” 15 people and would “probably” take place twice a year, with the first course scheduled for May 27, 2003.

In the past, the TFTT’s programs were conducted on a privately owned ranch adjacent to the Wilderness boundary. The ranch was recently sold and the new owner has prohibited the training on his land, so the TFTT is seeking permission to use the Wilderness. The BLM reports that no vehicles or mechanized tools will be used, though the team will dig and cover a latrine. The government would receive 3% of the TFTT’s gross receipts for the course, which costs $600 per participant.

Let your voice be heard! Please send your letters to the BLM asking them not to issue a Special Recreation Use Permit to TFTT for their Combat Fieldcraft course. You might want to include the following key points:

1. The training course is a commercial enterprise. The Wilderness Act is clear that commercial services are only allowed in Wilderness to “the extent necessary for activities which are proper for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the area.” Combat survival training does not meet either of these requirements, and has no place in Wilderness.

BLM’s wilderness regulations say:

“In BLM wilderness areas you must not:
Engage or participate in competitive use as defined in section 8372.0-5(c) of this chapter, including those activities involving physical endurance of a person or animal, foot races, water craft races, survival exercises, war games, or other similar exercises.” 43 CFR § 6302.20(I)

2. The training course will negatively impact the wilderness character of the Sacatar Trail Wilderness. Combat training, complete with the use of shotguns, is incompatible with the tangible and intangible elements of wilderness character. Wilderness was envisioned as a place for humility, set aside for solitude, self-examination, and reflection upon our place in the larger community of life. The Combat Fieldcraft course is the antithesis these values, displacing wildlife, impacting visitor’s experiences, and trampling fragile areas (not to mention the related safety issues). Sadly, these impacts would continue for four days, 24 hours a day.

Send your comments to:

BLM Bakersfield Field Office Attn: Michael Ayers
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93308

To learn more about TFTT’s courses, visit their website at:

http://www.tftt.com

3. CalUWild Slide Show in Marin County
April 8

The Foundation for Deep Ecology will host CalUWild coordinator Mike Painter in a presentation of a slide show on the citizens wilderness movement in Utah and the West. Please join us:

Tuesday, April 8 7 p.m.
The Foundation for Deep Ecology
Building 1062, Fort Cronkhite
Sausalito, CA

Refreshments will be served.

Visit the Foundation’s web site for directions:

http://www.deepecology.org

Call CalUWild (415-752-3911) or the Foundation (415-259-9340) for more information.

4. RS 2477 Fieldwork

Doing fieldwork is an excellent way to get to know (and protect) some of California wilderness areas and meet other folks who are interested in them as well. The California Wilderness Coalition is embarking on a program of mapping many of the most egregious road claims made by counties in designated or proposed wilderness areas around the state. No previous experience is necessary, and they could use your help!

April 11-13, 2003 California Wilderness Coalition and Sierra Club RS 2477 route-checking field trip.

Please join us in an effort to combat potential abuse to our most pristine California Desert wildlands and wilderness areas. The California Wilderness Coalition and Sierra Club are coordinating a field trip to the Mojave Preserve April 11-13 to document thousands of miles of bogus road claims that threaten to permanently scar wilderness units throughout the Preserve. San Bernardino County has claimed nearly 5,000 miles of right-of way claims pursuant to an antiquated statute known as RS 2477, part of an 1866 mining law aimed at facilitating westward expansion in the late 1800’s. Today many counties and off-road vehicle groups in California are falsely claiming that RS 2477 grants them the right to build roads across our federal public lands. Although Congress in 1976 repealed this archaic statute, known as “Revised Statute 2477”, it also grandfathered legitimate rights-of-way which existed prior to the repeal. Now several southern California counties are claiming thousands of miles of old jeep trails, wagon roads, wash bottoms, even cowpaths and footpaths, as “highways” across our BLM lands, National Forests, even National Parks and Wilderness. To make matters worse, the Bush Administration has just enacted a rule that will facilitate the giveaway of federal lands to private or public entities under this defunct statute through disclaimers of interest.

The California Wilderness Coalition has been hard at work on a statewide effort to identify and thwart these bogus RS 2477 right of way claims that threaten parks, wilderness, and other environmentally sensitive wildlands throughout the state. Our statewide inventory is well underway and will prepare us to participate in public comment opportunities and litigation, should the need arise. We cannot complete this task without the help of activists and volunteers. Several successful field trips have already produced invaluable information regarding the nature of these claims. From our collective wilderness encounters we can better inform our fellow citizens, our friends, our legislators, and ourselves about California’s Wild Heritage.

We are planning on camping out at a central location in the preserve. Everyone is asked to bring their own food, a camera, a note book, GPS equipment is valuable but not essential. We will provide maps and instruction.

RSVP to Amanda Dranginis at CWC: 530-758-0380.

For more information, contact Carol Wiley at the Sierra Club, earthlingwiley@webtv.net, 760-245-8734 or Vicky Hoover at the Sierra Club vicky.hoover@sierraclub.org, 415-977-5527.

5. RS 2477 Field Organizer Position at CWC

The California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) seeks an experienced Field Organizer for its new campaign to fight the revival of RS 2477, the 1866 mining law used for road building and other development in federally designated Wilderness, National Parks, Monuments, Forests, and other public lands. CWC brings together individuals and organizations in the vigorous defense of California’s remaining wildlands. Responsibilities for the Field Organizer include: coordinating a volunteer network, conducting community outreach, working with elected officials, policymakers, and the media, orchestrating campaign events, and providing basic administrative support. Candidates should be proven, energetic, and committed organizers, preferably with experience in environmental campaigns. Superior public speaking skills, familiarity with conservation issues, and a keen political sense are essential. Candidates must be willing to relocate to San Bernardino County or a nearby desert community.

The job is full-time for one year, with the possibility of an extension dependent on funding. Salary mid-$30s, full benefits. Significant travel required.

For more information on the CWC, go to www.calwild.org.

Send resume and cover letter to:

Hiring Director California Wilderness Coalition
2655 Portage Bay East, Suite 5
Davis, CA 95616
Fax: 530-758-0382
Email: info@calwild.org

IN ALASKA
6. Arctic Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Bill Introduced
ACTION ITEM

On February 13, Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Nancy Johnson (R-CT) introduced H.R.770. The measure, which has 132 original co-sponsors, would designate the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness. California cosponsors are:

* Xavier Becerra
* Lois Capps
* Susan Davis
* Anna Eshoo
* Sam Farr
* Bob Filner
* Jane Harman
* Mike Honda
* Tom Lantos
* Zoe Lofgren
* Bob Matsui
* Juanita Millender-McDonald
* George Miller
* Grace Napolitano
* Lucille Roybal-Allard
* Linda Sanchez
* Loretta Sanchez
* Adam Schiff
* Brad Sherman
* Hilda Solis
* Pete Stark
* Ellen Tauscher
* Diane Watson
* Henry Waxman
* Lynn Woolsey

If your representative is listed above, please call to say thanks. If not listed, call to ask them to cosponsor. See Item 1 for district and phone numbers.

7. Fee Demonstration Program in Congress
ACTION ITEM

The following alert comes from Keep Sespe Wild Committee, following up on the report in last month’s UPDATE.

The House Interior Appropriations subcommittee is seeking testimony, as they do each spring, on their fiscal year 2004 budget. This subcommittee is where Fee Demo originated, and where it’s been extended now six times. We need the subcommittee’s new chairman, Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC), to hear that it’s NOT a good idea to extend forest fees any further – it’s time to END them!

National Park Service Fee Demo is likely to be made permanent soon; the US Forest Service, the BLM, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service Fee Demo together bring in far, far less income (about 25% of what the Park Service brings in) – and far more controversy. This is why the sample letter below requests the subcommittee to end Fee Demo at all these three agencies.

THE EASIEST WAY FOR YOU TO CONTACT DC!

The subcommittee is seeking input by e-mail – quick and easy for ALL of us to respond to. Please ask your family and friends to e-mail also!

DEADLINE – Your e-mail testimony must be submitted by April 3rd, 5 p.m. Eastern Time, to be printed in the official record. But testimony after that date will still be useful.

YOUR E-MAIL LAYOUT – must be as the subcommittee requests, so PLEASE take care to follow these instructions –

* single spaced (max. 4 pages)
* at least 12 point font and one inch margins
* clearly state in the first paragraph the agency and the program (as in sample letter below)
* clearly indicate your name (and your title and the group you represent, if you do) at the TOP of the first page (as in sample letter below).

WHERE TO SEND IT –

approp.interior@mail.house.gov

in Microsoft Word format, please.

SAMPLE LETTER – (please put in your own words and add more, as you wish; note that exact copies of this sample letter will have less impact than your OWN version.)

YOUR NAME (&TITLE & ORGANIZATION)
YOUR ADDRESS

TESTIMONY FOR THE RECORD ON THE RECREATION FEE DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM FOR THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, THE US FOREST SERVICE AND THE US FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE

Chairman Charles Taylor,

Please do not fund, extend or make permanent the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program for the BLM, the USFS or the USFWS. This program must be canceled for these three agencies. It has met with widespread opposition across the nation for being a double tax, for making citizens pay to visit public lands which belong to us all and for excluding low-income and other users of our public lands.

Too high a percentage of the fees are spent on fee collection and on administration. The three agencies also have the incentive to develop additional infrastructure in order to charge more fees, thus changing the nature of our public lands.

Thank you. Yours, ……..

God bless America. Let’s save some of it. –Edward Abbey

=================================

Michael J. Painter Coordinator

Californians for Western Wilderness

P.O. Box 210474
San Francisco, CA 94121-0474
415-752-3911

mike@caluwild.org

caluwild@mindspring.com

https://www.caluwild.org (Constantly undergoing renovation)

=================================

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2002 March

March 31st, 2002

April 2, 2002

Dear CalUWild friends —

In honor of April Fool’s Day yesterday, we’re calling this the March UPDATE. (Actually, it was originally planned for last week.)

Public lands have been in the news quite a bit lately, especially the continuing debate over drilling in the Arctic. The New York Times reported that a recent United States Geologic Survey study showed that “drilling could harm caribou, snow geese, musk oxen and other wildlife.”

But some people fear that, with enough probable votes in the Senate to block any drilling there, the constant raising of the issue of Arctic drilling is a smokescreen, behind which the administration can hide its other plans for energy exploration and other activities all across the West.

In Washington, DC, the Senate refused to increase fuel economy standards for cars, although it did mandate that energy providers obtain a 10% of their energy supplies from renewable sources by 2020. (With exemptions that are built in the real number may be closer to 7.5%. And Environmentalists had hoped the standard would be set at 20%.) There is talk about allowing biomass from forests to be counted in that 10%, bringing with it fears that our national forests will come under further pressure from extractive interests.

In another bad development, the BLM published an item in the Federal Register beginning the process of rewriting rules under which counties and others could settle their road claims against the federal government. (See Item 1.)

And the White House is pushing for a review of the Park Service’s decision to phase out snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. (We’ll have information on that in our April UPDATE.)

The good news is that the media is beginning to bring some of these issues to the public’s attention, as is a growing network of organizations. The White House was recently ordered to release information regarding meetings that Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force held. Unsurprisingly, the documents — heavily edited as they are — show that the task force met mostly with energy company officials and not with environmentalists or people with views other than the administration’s.

The Interior Board of Land Appeals put a stop to seismic exploration outside Arches National Park, which we discussed in the February UPDATE. The Terry Tempest Williams op-ed piece from the New York Times, distributed in February, was reprinted in OrionOnline, with a couple of pictures that I took in Utah last August. You can read the article and see the pictures at:

http://www.oriononline.org/pages/oo/sidebars/front/index_front.html.

The Utah Wilderness Coalition’s Wilderness Week in early March was a success. 30 advocates from around the country met with congressional staffers in Washington, bringing them up to date on various Utah issues. 2 more representatives joined the ranks of cosponsors for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, bringing the total to 159.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a front page story on the proposed oil and gas leases in Los Padres National Forest. If you missed it, the article can be read at:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/03/11/MN59606.DTL

Please submit comments on that proposal. (See Item 3.) The deadline is April 19.

As you can see, there’s a lot to keep us busy. One thing, though, is clear: it will be up to ordinary citizens to protect the lands they value. Thank you for doing your part!

Best wishes,

Mike

===================

IN UTAH

1. R.S. 2477 Roads: Comment Deadline April 23

2. Reminder: San Rafael Swell Route Designation

Deadline: April 22

IN CALIFORNIA

3. Reminder: Los Padres National Forest

Oil & Gas Leasing

Deadline: April 19

4. Edward Weston Exhibition at

the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

IN MEMORIAM

5. Peggy Wayburn

===================

IN UTAH

1. R.S. 2477 Roads: Comment Deadline April 23

We’ve talked before about R.S. 2477, the 1866 law that states: “The right of way for the construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted.” The law was repealed in 1976, but continues to be a source of contention. Rural counties in the West claim it gives them the right to use just about any route that exists across public land. Many of these supposed roads are nothing more than wash bottoms or tracks from repeated use by vehicles.

The federal government, on the other hand, has claimed that many of these are not roads because they were never “constructed,” they aren’t “highways,” and many appeared after 1976. A recent court case held that, as the original law R.S. 2477 stated, these routes actually had to be constructed and go somewhere in order to qualify as “highways” under the statue.

CalUWild advisory Board member Gail Hoskisson has put together a website with photos of some of these claimed routes:

http://members.aol.com/gshiker999/index.html

This has been a huge issue in Utah, where there have been ongoing secret negotiations between Gov. Mike Leavitt and the Dept. of the Interior. Gov. Leavitt says there are 10,000 claims in that state. In California, the Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park contain claims by counties that could be affected as well. Reports are that Alaska may have over 1 million miles of claimed routes.

At the end of February, the Bureau of Land Management published a proposal in the Federal Register which could have devastating effects on wilderness efforts across the West, where potential road claims by counties form a network on lands in many wilderness proposals. If put into effect, this rule would make it easier for counties and other entities to solidify their claims to countless routes across public lands. Objections would have to be filed against each individual claim, which would be an overwhelming amount of work.

The Federal Register announcement is written in language which gives no clue as to its potentially huge implications. In fact, R.S. 2477 is not mentioned anywhere in the announcement, although the BLM website mentions it. It almost looks like BLM is trying to hide something.

We have until April 23 to submit comments.

Pam Eaton, Four Corners Representative for the Wilderness Society, has put together a list of the main points to make in your comments:

* BLM should withdraw its proposed rule (67 FR 8216) that would make it easier to give away federal lands — including rights-of-way to the states;

* You do not appreciate the agency’s attempt to give away rights-of-way that would fracture otherwise unroaded areas and allow motorized use in wild places. If you can, give examples of public lands you have visited that would be harmed if new roads, power lines, pipelines or other developments were allowed through them;

* The rule is illegal. Congress passed a provision in Sept. 30, 1996 that said ”No final rule or regulation of any agency of the Federal Government pertaining to the recognition, management, or validity of a right-of-way pursuant to Revised Statute 2477 ((former) 43 U.S.C. 932) shall take effect unless expressly authorized by an Act of Congress subsequent to the date of enactment of this Act.” By BLM’s own admission on its website, “This proposed rule would provide an opportunity for States and other local governmental entities to secure a right to a highway which is purported to be a R.S. 2477 highway reservation. . . .” (http://www.blm.gov/nhp/news/releases/pages/2002/disclaimer_qa.htm)

* National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests and public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management are valuable public assets that should not be given away.

* Many claims of rights-of-ways for “highways” across public lands are not valid claims, but cynical attempts to thwart wilderness protection or otherwise break up public wild lands. BLM should not be validating these bogus claims through the expedited process allow under the proposed rule. The BLM should, rather, apply a rigorous determination process for validating claims to rights-of-ways across public lands.

Please use your own words. Comments must be postmarked by April 23 and mailed to:

Attention: RIN 1004-AD50

Bureau of Land Management

Eastern States Office

7450 Boston Boulevard

Springfield, VA 22153

2. Reminder: San Rafael Swell Route Designation

Deadline: April 22

In March we sent out a single-issue alert on San Rafael Swell Route Designation. Please refer to it for information. The deadline for comments is March 22. If you’re new to CalUWild or don’t have a copy, please let me know, and I’ll send you one. There have been some delays recently with the website, but it should be there soon as well.

IN CALIFORNIA

3. Reminder: Los Padres National Forest

Oil & Gas Leasing

Deadline: April 19

In our February UPDATE we included information on the Los Padres National Forest oil and gas leasing proposal. The comment deadline is April 19.

At a minimum, please include the following in your letter:

• There should be no oil or gas leases in potential wilderness areas in the Los Padres National Forest.

• Decisions regarding oil and gas leasing should be included in the new forest management plan revision process. It makes no sense to propose a program with such potentially serious consequences as leasing under a management plan that is out of date and being revised.

Anything you can add that personalizes your comments is helpful, especially if it relates to specific areas under consideration.

We will send out more detailed information next week.

Send your letter to:

USDA Forest Service

Attn: Al Hess, Project Manager

1190 East Ojai Avenue

Ojai, CA 93023.

A summary of what the Forest Service is considering can be found on the Los Padres National Forest website at:

http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/lospadres.

4. Edward Weston Exhibition at

the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

SF MOMA is currently showing an exhibition of works by photographer Edward Weston, including many from Point Lobos, the wild area just south of Carmel and which has been an inspiration to many artists and authors.

EDWARD WESTON: THE LAST YEARS IN CARMEL, through July 9.

The museum is free the first Tuesday of the month, and admission is half-price Thursday evenings.

For more information, contact:

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

151 Third St.

San Francisco

415-357-4000

http://www.sfmoma.org.

5. IN MEMORIAM

Peggy Wayburn

Conservationist Peggy Wayburn, who worked to protect many wilderness areas and establish national parks in Alaska and Northern California, died in San Francisco on March 21. She was 84 years old.

Peggy , the wife of former Sierra Club President and CalUWild Advisory Board member Dr. Ed Wayburn, was the author of five books, including “Alaska: The Great Land” and “Adventuring in the Bay Area.”

Together the Wayburns were instrumental in establishing Point Reyes National Seashore, Redwood National Park, and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. They also worked to set aside vast areas of Alaska as wilderness through the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980.

We send our condolences to Ed and their children.

That’s it for now. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at or at 415-752-3911.

Thank for your interest and support for wild lands in the West!

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